Author Archives: Antony Dennis

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Planning Your Dream Natural Building Home Workshop, UK

Earth, Hands and Houses Straw Bale Workshop Leader, Paulina Wojciechowska

Building with earth: Paulina and her passion…

People having fun at a Clay Plastering Workshop run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

Workshops are always lots of fun!

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL.
THE NEXT TIME THIS WORKSHOP WILL RUN IS 2016 – THE DATES FOR THIS WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN NOVEMBER.

A five day workshop on planning your dream natural home
Tuesday 11th – Saturday 15th August 2015.

Taught by architect and earthbag author Paulina Wojciechowska, and Antony Dennis.

The workshop will be held in a lovely farm set in rolling english countryside 15 minutes drive from London Gatwick airport.

This workshop is a combination of lots of hands on experience combined with lectures and discussion to help you plan your dream home made from natural materials.

Paulina has designed a dream home which will be built from natural materials at the workshop site of Oaklands Farm over the next two years, and the design and site will be used as a real-life example to gain hands-on experience of the ideas presented in the workshop.

What You Will Learn

The workshop covers all areas of planning your home, from choosing a site, through planning the design, to an awareness of what is involved in all aspects of the build so you can plan what you can do and what will require the help of others.

Throughout the five days, the workshop is 50% presentation and discussion, and 50% hands-on practical work.

The topic areas covered are:

An in-depth look at all aspects of planning the design of your natural home, including:

  • Choosing your site
  • Preparation of a site plan
  • Dealing with the site’s characteristics such as earth types, ground topology, etc.
  • Creating a house design to suite your lifestyle
  • The balance of costs: money, time, quality.
  • How to find your balance point and cost your project in a realistic way
  • Working with architects, builders and volunteers
  • Fitting the project into your life.
  • A design example: the amazing 5 bedroom house being built at Oaklands Farm.
  • Feng Shui – presented by Laurent Langlais. Click here for more details about Laurent.

Technologies choices for the house structure:

  • Foundations: types of foundations, pros and cons, which to use in different site situations, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Roof structures: types of roofs, pros and cons, how to choose the best roof structure for your project, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Insulation: a discussion of different solutions and their relative effectiveness.
  • Walls: an overview of natural building wall technologies: straw bale, cordwood, earthbag, cobb, rammed earth, old tyres.
  • Floors: an overview of the different technologies, their pros and cons.
  • Guidelines for designing wall structures using different technologies
  • Balancing your idealogical ideas with your building inspector’s logical, legal ones.
  • Hands-on experience:  building walls for the Oaklands Farm project from cordwood, earthbag and cobb.

An overview of planning and installing services, with an emphasis on specific considerations for houses built from natural materials:

  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Heating systems.
  • Waste water drainage systems
  • Rainwater drainage systems
  • Internal shelving and structures.

Review and Presentation of up to Three Design Plans
Many people come to our workshops with plans and ideas for their house and site design. We will select up to three design ideas from participants to be reviewed by Paulina during the workshop and presented to the group on the last day for further discussion. Many of our attendees have specialist knowledge on particular areas of design, construction or permaculture, and it can be a valuable experience to share that knowledge. Please let us know with your workshop application if you would like your design ideas to be reviewed and presented.

Hands-on Experience – 50% of Workshop Time

This would be a very boring workshop if it were 5 days of lectures – and you would never be able to retain and use all the details. This workshop will be around 50% hands-on, based around the building aspects of a natural home. The hands-on work will be a brief introduction to the technologies involved, and will include:

  • Constructing some of the foundations on the project at Oaklands Farm.
  • Building with cobb
  • Building with earthbags
  • Building with cordwood
  • Building with straw bales
  • Constructing part of a rainwater drainage system.
  • Working with electrical wiring, sockets and lights.
  • Working with plumbing and waste water parts.

Book Your Place

The price of the five day workshop is £265 per person, or a discounted price of £235 is available if booked by 1st July 2015.

Note that immediately after this workshop, we will run a five day workshop on how to build with straw bales, and a further two days on in-depth clay plastering techniques.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop begins.

Children from the age of 8 are welcome to accompany their parent(s) and may participate in parts of the workshop as they wish. No charges are made for children under the age of 18 years.

To book your place:

email info@EarthHandsAndHouses.org or
call Antony on (+44) 7812 070413.

About your Workshop Leader

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience building with straw bales and  earthbags in communities all around the world.

Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books. She also worked with leading straw bale and clay plaster veterans Bill and Athena Steen in 1997-8 and has been involved in running straw bale and earthbag workshops and designing and building straw bale structures since then. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held at Oaklands Farm, which is a 15 minute drive south of London Gatwick airport. You may camp at the farm for free.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Workshop Timing

The workshop will run the following times:

Day 1: from 10:00 to 18:00. You are welcome to arrive on the afternoon of the day before to set up camp and settle in before the workshop begins.

Days 2-4: from 09:00 to 17:00.

Day 5: from 09:00 to 16:00. If you are camping, you are welcome to stay on until the following morning if you wish.

But there is more…

This will be more than just a natural building workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Learn more…

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plastering workshop:

A similar straw bale structure we made at our Turkey workshop in October.

Straw Bale Workshop, Spain

A similar straw bale structure we made at our Turkey workshop in October.

A similar, but larger straw bale structure we made at our Turkey workshop in October 2013.

Clay plastering the joints between bales...

Clay plastering the joints between bales…

Having fun in the sun...

Having fun in the sun…

The walls take shape... clay plastering the bale walls.

The walls take shape… clay plastering the bale walls.

Earth, Hands and Houses Straw Bale Workshop Leader, Paulina Wojciechowska

Building with earth: Paulina and her passion…

People having fun at a Clay Plastering Workshop run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

Workshops are always lots of fun!

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF OUR NEXT STRAW BALE WORKSHOP, IN ENGLAND IN AUGUST.

 

A five day straw bale and clay plastering workshop

Friday 1st May – Sunday 3rd May and

Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th May 2015.

Set in a beautiful olive grove in the rugged mountains near Tarbena in the Costa Blanca region of Spain.

Taught in English and Spanish by architect and author Paulina Wojciechowska, and Antony Dennis.

This workshop is a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on experience of constructing and plastering a real straw bale building that will be used for visitor accommodation, in the beautiful surroundings of our olive grove set in a lush green valley in the mountains north of Alicante.

What You Will Learn

Hands-on experience of all the stages in straw bale wall construction, and an introduction to the plastering of a real structure:

  • Raising straw bale walls
  • How to tie the straw bale walls together
  • Making a wall plate and compressing a wall
  • Installation of door and window frames
  • Managing the use of bales to maintain wall strength
  • Recognizing the clay found on our land and understanding how to use it for building
  • Preparation and application of the first 2 coats of clay plaster onto the straw bale wall

This straw bale workshop will be mainly hands-on, working on a 5 x 3 metre building which will be used for visitor accommodation at our olive grove site. Theory lessons on each day will back up the practical skills learned and provide the opportunity for more detailed questions to be answered. The foundations will be mainly built when the workshops starts. When completel, the straw bale walls will support a simple roof structure. Depending on the size and speed of the group, we may also have time to work on the roof structure – and we will definitely have time to discuss how it is designed.

On the following three days, there will be a more in-depth workshop on clay plastering techniques – please contact us for more details if you would also like to attend this.

Book Your Place

The price of the five day straw bale workshop is 230€ per person, or a discounted price of 195€ is available if booked by 1st March 2015.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop begins.

To book your place
email info@EarthHandsAndHouses.org or
call Antony on (+34) 633 012 477.

About your Workshop Leader

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience building with straw bales and  earthbags in communities all around the world. Paulina worked alongside leading straw bale and clay plaster veterans Bill and Athena Steen in 1997-8 and has been involved in running straw bale workshops and designing and building straw bale structures since then. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held in an olive grove, 2km south of the village of Tarbena. You may camp within the olive grove for free.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Please note that consumption of alcohol and smoking on the site are not allowed.

Workshop Timing

The workshop will run from 09:00 to 17:00 on each day. If you are  camping, you are welcome to arrive any time from 15:00 on the day before the workshop starts and to depart the day after the workshop ends.

You will notice that the workshop runs over two weekends: this is to meet the needs of our local Spanish attendees. If you are travelling to the workshop from further away,  you are welcome to stay camping on the workshop site in the 5 day gap. We will be running an earthbag workshop during that time on the same site, and we have another little straw bale project you would be able to work on to practice your skills. We are in the mountains, so you can hike, and we have a swimming pool. If a group of you wanted to go out for the day, we can find a local person to give you a ride somewhere interesting and you can share the cost. We have 70km of coastline very near!

Booking Multiple Workshops in Spain

You are welcome to attend a combination of our Spanish workshops:

Straw Bale and Clay Plaster + Earthbag and Clay Plaster (1-10 May)
345€ if paid before 1st March, otherwise €395.

Straw Bale and Clay Plaster + Earthbag and Clay Plaster + In-Depth Clay Plaster (1-14 May)
495€ if paid before 1st March, otherwise €545.

But there is more…

This will be more than just a straw bale workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Learn more…

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

 

Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plastering workshop:

An Earthbag dome built by Earth, Hands and Houses in Zambia in 2012.

Earthbag Dome and Clay Plaster Workshop, Spain

An Earthbag dome built by Earth, Hands and Houses in Zambia in 2012.

A similar but larger dome we built in Zambia in 2012.

A dome being built at a Earthbag workshop in Zambia in 2012

The Zambian dome takes shape 

Lovely local food to start the day...

Lovely local food to start the day…

Earthbag dome participants learn how to position an earthbag.

Workshop participants practice the art of accurately positioning a tube of earth…

Happy attendees of an Earthbag workshop in Poland, 2012.

“The dome WE built!” – Poland, 2012

THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OF OUR NEXT EARTHBAG WORKSHOP, IN POLAND IN JUNE.

A 5 day Earthbag Dome Workshop
4th – 10th May 2015.

followed by
A 3 day In-depth Clay Plaster Techniques Workshop
11-14th May 2015.

Taught by architect and earthbag author
Paulina Wojciechowska, and Antony Dennis.

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience building with earthbags in communities all around the world. Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books.

What You Will Learn

The workshop is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience of all stages of constructing a 3 metre diameter earthbag dome in a beautiful location in Spain, and will include:

Earthbag Dome Workshop (6 days)

  • Theory of earthbag stucture foundations.
  • Building an earthbag dome from an existing base.
  • Creating earthbag walls using both single bags and earthbag tubes.
  • Different techniques using arches and lintels to construct doorways and windows within the earthbag structure.
  • Ensuring the structure is stable through the correct use of buttressing and corbelling based upon the nature of the earth used to fill the bags.
  • Recognizing the clay found on our land and understanding how to use it for building.
  • Preparation and application of the first 2 coats of clay plaster onto the earthbag dome.

In-Depth Clay Plastering Workshop (3 days)

There is an opportunity to stay on for a further three days to gain an in depth, hands on experience of a wide range of clay plastering techniques, including:

  • Sculpting with the second straw clay based plaster layer.
  • Preparation and application of the final smooth layer of plaster.
  • Types of smooth plasters, including those that are prepared with and without lime.
  • Experimenting with different types of natural plant based stabilisers, for example wheat paste and cactus.
  • Experimenting with and undestanding how to mix different plasters and stabilisers.
  • Application of smooth finishing plaster onto a conventionally built, concrete or brick wall.
  • The different methods of applying smooth plasters to a wall.
  • An introduction to carving techniques of smooth plasters.
  • Mixing and application of clay paints
  • Use of straw and clay as insulation.
  • An introduction to clay plaster mixes used in cob ovens and earthen floors.

Book Your Place

The workshop prices are:

Five day Earthbag Dome Workshop:
290€ per person, or 250€ if booked by 1st March 2015.

Three day In-Depth Clay Plastering Workshop:
150€ per person.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop.

To book your place
email info@EarthHandsAndHouses.org or
call Antony on (+34) 633 012 477.

About your Workshop Leader

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience building with earthbags in communities all around the world. Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held at our olive grove, 2km south of the village of Tarbena. You may camp within the olive grove for free.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Please note that consumption of alcohol and smoking on the site are not allowed due to the remote and mountainous nature of the workshop location.

Workshop Timing

The earthbag dome workshop will run the following times:

  • 4th May: from 13:00 to 18:00. You are welcome to arrive at any time from 10:00 in the morning to set up camp and settle in before the workshop begins.
  • 5, 6, 7th May: from 09:00 to 17:00.
  • 8th May – rest day – earth building is hard work your body will need a rest by this time.
  • 9th May – from 09:00 to 17:00.
  • 10th May – from 09:00 to 13:00.

The following clay plastering workshop will run:

  • Day 1: from 13:00 to 18:00.
  • Days 2-3: from 09:00 to 17:00.
  • Day 4: from 09:00 to 13:00.

Booking Multiple Workshops in Spain

You are welcome to attend a combination of our Spanish workshops:

Straw Bale and Clay Plaster + Earthbag and Clay Plaster (1-10 May)
345€ if paid before 1st March, otherwise €395.

Straw Bale and Clay Plaster + Earthbag and Clay Plaster + In-Depth Clay Plaster (1-14 May)
495€ if paid before 1st March, otherwise €545.

But there is more…

This will be more than just an earthbag dome workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Earthbag Homes in Disaster Regions

Click here to read more about why earthbag homes are a great construction method to introduce into the world’s poorer, disaster prone communities.

Learn more…

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

 

Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plastering workshop:

Earthbag Construction: Foundations

The foundations are one of the most fundamental, and often overlooked part of an earthbag structure. Foundations have to:

  • Spread the load of the walls and roof evenly over the ground.
  • Hold the building together as one unit.
  • Keep the building dry from water which can rise from the ground.

The foundation trench has to go down to undisturbed ground to either bedrock or well compressed subsoil. You should also ensure it goes below the level to which frost can form during the winter.

Once you have

 

Using Earthbags for Low Cost, Disaster Resistant Housing

Local men filling earthbags at our project in Zambia

Local men filling earthbags at our project in Zambia

Local people can take part in all aspects of the construction...

Local people can take part in all aspects of the construction…

Even mothers with their young children can take part...

Even mothers with their young children can take part…

All members of the community are able to take part in filling earthbags...

All members of the community are able to take part in filling earthbags…

A dome being built at a Earthbag workshop in Zambia in 2012

The Zambian dome takes shape

Many parts of the world have a high probability of a natural disaster such as earthquakes, hurricanes or flooding. What makes matters worse is that many of those areas are very poor, so housing is often built using methods and materials which are not able to withstand these disasters.

Earthbags: bags of earth!

Building with earthbags provides a simple and low cost solution to this problem. Earthbag structures are based around using low cost and easily transported bags similar to sand bags, and filling them with natural materials that are available in the local community, such as earth, pumice, gravel or sand.

Low cost materials: no wood and steel required…

With some carefully planned designs, often based around self supporting arch and dome structures, homes can be constructed using free materials from the earth, with minimal or no amounts of expensive structural materials such as wood and steel.

Thick disaster resistant walls…

Because earthbag walls are thick and usually self supporting, then they are much more able to withstand natural disasters than much of the houses that currently exist in the poorer, disaster prone areas of the world.

Local unskilled labour, bringing communities together…

An earthbag building project only needs a single person with knowledge of earthbag techniques and the house design: the construction work requires no previous skills, and is based around digging up the earth material, filling the bags, and flattening them down. Earthbag construction can be a team effort of everyone in the community, from children to the elderly!

Can regulate or insulate heat…

Earthbags filled with earth will have a high thermal mass which can regulate the heat inside the house in warm countries. Earthbags filled with porous materials such as pumice will contain pockets of air which are highly insulating.

Introduce earthbag techniques to a community…

More and more charities and local leaders are looking to introduce earthbag building techniques into the world’s poorest disaster prone communities. Earth, Hands and Houses can be the catalyst for that process: we provide open workshops around the world where local leaders can come and learn earthbag techniques, or we can come into your community for training more specific to your locality.

For more details…

We are running an Earthbag workshop in Thailand 10-18th February 2014 which is an ideal introduction to introducing earthbag construction to disaster prone communities.  Click here for more details.

Or call or email us directly:
call +44 1825 713349
email info@earthhandsandhouses.org.

We look forward to hear from you!

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

Home Detail

Natural building workshops teach how to use locally sourced materials such as wood, straw bales and the earth from under your feet, to create homes that are beautiful, sustainable, cost effective, and can be built with minimal expertise.

Earth, Hands and Houses run natural building workshops and provide natural building architect services based on the experience of the founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 17 years of experience natural building with earthbags, straw bales and clay plasters.

Paulina gave up her career as an architect in London in 1996 to follow her passion for building with natural materials. She spent years working alongside the pioneers of natural building. Her work with earthbag construction saw her spend months working alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth, the inventor of the earthbag system. A few years later she went on to write one of the first books on earthbag construction, “Building with Earth”. Her work with straw bale construction and clay plastering lead her to live and work with leading experts Bill and Athena Steen. Her inquisitive mind ensured she pushed and tested everything that was possible with these natural building technologies. It is that deep knowledge, along with her desire to bring people together in an atmosphere of fun and friendship, that is at the core of the natural building workshops run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

What makes Earth, Hands and Houses natural building workshops unique is that they are usually based around real building projects, where you can gain first hand experience of how to create a real-world structure. Add in the warm, open and friendly atmosphere that Paulina creates, and you have an opportunity to gain deep knowledge, have great fun, and make like minded friends all at the same time.